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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 8611

Climate Change

Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:37): My question is to the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Brandis. In the lead-up to the Paris Climate Change Conference, which the Prime Minister has said 'must establish a durable platform for limiting global temperature rise to below two degrees', how will your government defend your approval of the Adani Carmichael coal mine, which would create 100 times more carbon pollution than your latest direct action option has abated and which alone will generate more pollution than the entire European Union in one year?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:38): Senator Waters, I have no trouble at all in defending the approval of the Carmichael coal mine in Central Queensland. The pity of it is that you, as a Queensland senator, are not as eager to do so to protect the jobs of people in Central Queensland. Senator Waters, if you visited Central Queensland—as I, for example, last week visited Rockhampton—you would know that the people whom you are supposed to represent in the Senate are desperate for this project to go ahead because, under various estimates, this project will create up to 10,000 jobs while providing to India clean coal which will liberate more than 100 million people from energy poverty, which will provide clean coal to India for coal-fired power stations, which will provide electricity for more than 100 million of the poorest people of that country.

I know Senator Waters that you, in your middleclass conceit, would love to engage in the kind of moral posturing which is the trademark of the Greens, but I am afraid we on our side of the chamber are a little more interested in liberating more than 100 million of the poorest people in the world from energy poverty, while providing jobs to Australians and in particular jobs to people in Queensland, more particularly in Central Queensland. Would that you were so concerned about both of those things, but obviously, Senator Waters, you are not.

Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:40): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Clearly Senator Brandis has never heard of the Great Barrier Reef, which employs 60,000 people.

Honourable senators interjecting

The PRESIDENT: Order! Senator Macdonald and Senator Wong, I need to hear the question and so does the minister.

Senator WATERS: Given that the laws of physics dictate that the combustion of coal produces particulate matter, sulphur and carbon dioxide, which fuels global warming, how can the Prime Minister, supposedly a man acquainted with science, be spruiking our coal as a clean energy source in his weekend discussions with China?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:41): Senator Waters, I am sure it has not escaped your notice that some forms of coal are cleaner than others and the coal that will be mined from the Carmichael mine by Adani is some of the cleanest coal in the world. I do not know, Senator Waters, how it can have escaped your notice that the people who will be supplied with energy as a result of that coal are people who, at the moment in India, are largely meeting their energy needs from biomass and from other much more pollutant materials. So the consequence of the development of the Carmichael mine by Adani, the export of that relatively clean coal to India and its use in a new generation of Indian electricity generation to replace the pollutant biomass upon which those people rely at the moment will be to produce a much cleaner energy outcome.

Senator WATERS (QueenslandCo-Deputy Leader of the Australian Greens) (14:42): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Clearly the senator has not heard of solar either. As the co-chair of the Green Climate Fund, will Australia now pull its weight and contribute the $400 million per year over the next four years that would be our fair share to assist developing nations to cut pollution and to adapt to climate change?

Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (14:42): I have already explained to you, Senator Waters, although you seem to be reluctant to listen, how the export of coal from the Carmichael mine to India will cut pollution in itself. But of course the Australian government is taking to the Paris Climate Change Conference one of the most ambitious reduction targets in the world, in fact the most ambitious per capita emissions reduction target in the world, which will, by 2030, decrease our emissions of 2005 levels by between 26 per cent and 28 per cent.

Senator Waters: Mr President, I rise on a point of order. My question went specifically to the financial contribution that this nation may or may not make under the auspices of being the new co-chair of the Green Climate Fund.

The PRESIDENT: Thank you, Senator Waters. I will remind the Attorney-General of the question.

Senator BRANDIS: Senator Waters, as I was telling you, we are taking per capita the most ambitious target in the world to the Paris Climate Change Conference. We have already contributed $200 million to the Green Climate Fund—$200 million—and such is the esteem in which Australia is held by our partners that we have been elected the co-chair of that fund.